Drago Centro: Where Foodies Can Be Boozies

Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 4/27/2010

You haven't been to Drago Centro yet!?
Shame on you (and me).

Until about two weeks ago, I hadn't ventured into the acclaimed Italian restaurant, Drago Centro. Not for pasta. Not for biscotti. Not for the extensive wine list. Absolutely nothing! I vowed via tweet to make an appearance by the end of April, amazed by the sheer amount of buzz surrounding the new Spring cocktail menu.

The morning of the launch, it seemed very unlikely that I'd be able to make it    I was in my usual frump, embracing one hundred days of a sedentary lifestyle before I start my professional career as an accountant. Around four or five (mind you, I'm still in jammies), my close friend JC, asked if I'd like to grab some coffee. I responded with an insistent and very mischievous, "how about a drink?" I half-expected him to decline, forgetting that my diner-in-crime always pulls through!

Voilà! I had a date, parental approval, and a thirsty point-and-shoot.
Disclaimer: As the night progressed, less attention was paid to the quality of the photos... it's almost like you're looking through my cocktail-goggles!

debuting the Spring cocktail menu, buzz worthy

I'd gladly pay $12 a cocktail for any one of these drinks, but it just so happened that the night of launch (only!) the drinks were half-price. At $6 a pop, with our no-college-debt and just-pocketed-birthday-money budgets, we gladly indulged in five drinks:

principe prosecco, kelt cognac, punt e mes, limoncello, peychaud's bitters, sugar cube

The settentacinque (75) was by far, the hardest drink for me to pronounce and I wasn't even close to being inebriated. I enjoy prosecco, especially when it is a bit dry and bubbly like in this cocktail. The last sip of the cocktail was very sugary, as the sugar cube had dissolved and settled at the bottom of my glass.  

distillery no. 209 gin, dimmi liquori, harry's strawberries, basil, lemon juice

The draculino, or little dracula, shouted out Spring to me. Essentially, it's a well-balanced and dainty adult lemonade, that perfectly balances strawberry and basil. I love all drinks muddled and the bartenders at Drago Centro pay close attention that the seeds of the strawberry do not end up in your martini glass.

plymouth sloe gin, creme de peche, st. germain, orange bitters, soda water

Rallenta, or "slowing down," is probably named after the sloe gin used in the cocktail. Sloe gin is a liqueur infused with very ripe berries. I only had one or two sips of this cocktail, but it wasn't as soda watered down as others warned.    

sagatiba cachaça, cinnamon tincture, lime, demerara (turbinado) sugar

The maracaña, named after a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, is a beautiful take on Brazil's national drink, the caipirinha. With its smoky and sweet tones, it easily became my second favorite drink of the night. Sitting at the bar definitely has its perks, as it showcased the artful preparation of the cocktails by bartenders and Michael Shearin, himself. Sagatiba cachaça, a Brazilian rum, means never-ending search, but I think I found a solid cocktail.

arancia meccanica
sombra mezcal, red bell pepper, cilantro, agave nectar, lime juice, smoked salt

The arancia meccanica, or "clockwork orange," is the only cocktail that stayed on the menu from last season. It's Drago's little black dress; everyone wants one and it's damn fashionable! It's musky. It's savory. It changed my friend's perception of what a cocktail is; it's a drink that doesn't have to be sickly sweet, fruity and cater only to women! Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner    my favorite drink of the night!

morel mushroom & pork belly on polenta
compliments of Chef Ian Gresik 

It was fungi-licious and polent-awesome! The meaty, spongy morel mushrooms paired perfectly atop the creamy polenta. My sole complaint was that I required a spoon and not a fork to clear the rounded plate of the polenta    yes, it was that good. I know I'll be spending an ample amount of time in my kitchen trying to mimic the polenta... thanks again Chef Gresik!

la pizza del giorno, $4
spinach, ricotta, pancetta

I secretly suspected that my friend wanted the $7 kobe sliders recommended by Minty, but since I'm all about the holy cow, we opted for two pizzas.Priced low, la pizza del giorno doesn't disappoint. 

la pizza alla salsiccia, $4
sausage, rapini, mozzarella cheese

Out of the two pizzas, I preferred la pizza del giorno over the one pictured above. The former was lighter, due to the fresh ricotta and spinach. La pizza alla salsiccia was quite a bit heavier, due to the melted mozzarella and chunks of sausage. Enjoyed the rapini (broccoli rabe) though!

i bomboloni, $9
doughnuts, apples, amaretto caramel, ricotta, brown butter ice cream

Solely based on the ever so small sample of the i bomboloni, Italian doughnuts, my palate insists on a return visit. I'd absolutely love to come back over and over again just to sample the creations of Pastry Chef Jashmine Corpuz and indulge in a cocktail or two or three. Only a portion of the dessert is pictured above, as JC and met a solo diner, Jeremy, who graciously shared some of his doughnuts and accompaniments. Jeremy, restaurant manager of DTLA's Roy's Hawaiian Fusion, really hit it off with my friend, which allowed me ample time to ditch my date and mingle with bloggerazzi. It was great to meet Julie of LAist, Nastassia of Let Me Eat Cake, Javier of Glutster, and many others! 

In April, I celebrated my half birthday, which made me realize that it has only been six months since I've turned twenty one and could legally embrace Los Angeles' cocktail culture. When it comes to cocktails, I don't have the street cred to assign a bar a letter grade on the quality of their drinks, but I sure do enjoy a good drink. Drago Centro, with Michael Shearin on its side, definitely set a new standard in my books! If Michael's cocktails are that spectacular, just imagine what it's like to order dinner paired with wine, his true calling!

If you have not yet burst your Drago cherry, please do so while the Spring Cocktail menu is still around!

Drago Centro
525 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2200
(213) 228-8998

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Comments (4)

It's pretty hard to take good pictures when you've had a few drinks. :) Looks like it's time to take a trip and check out this menu. The morel and pork belly over polenta sounds great.

It was nice finally meeting you there! I think everyone was a little tipsy that night, ha ha.

anyways, wait, what do you mean only been 6 months since you could legally drink?

you just didn't turn 21 did you?


Chrystal: Cocktail goggles should be my excuse of every crappy picture I take! Definitely head on over... the polenta was divine!

Javier: I turned 21 in October! Cheers!

I was @ Downtown Drago and Chaya 4 times in the past month.
This dog prefers Chaya.

And I also prefer tastier food: what's the latest on Artesia?

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